According to the Heidelberg-based company, the antioxidants commonly used in food applications are the pigmenting bioactive ingredients from red fruits. In order to be able to widen the range of food applications with other colours like yellow or orange, the company has developed a standardised polyphenol-containing blend from tea extracts that offers comparable functional properties. However, the inclusion of these polyphenols often results in a negative effect on the flavour of the product. "Poyphenols are usually known for their bitter andastringent aftertaste," Christopher Beck, vice president for marketing, told FoodNavigator.com. "Due to a special Wild application technology, it is possible to now provide antioxidant blends containing polyphenols that offer great taste in the final product."The antioxidants used in Wild's new blend are extracted from the leaves of Green Tea and Green Rooibos plants, which do not add any colour to the product. They come in a thick liquid form for use in ice cream, and as a powder for baked goods applications. This is the second step for Wild to provide light-colour solutions, after first developing a comparable antioxidant blends for light-coloured beverages. Last year it developed a taste solution pack for adding antioxidants to red products. NaturalWild stressed the importance of finding a natural solution for providing optimum taste in products that include antioxidants. It said a UK Homescan Survey, conducted by Nielsen last year, found that 69 per cent of respondents said they prefer natural food and beverages. This is up from 50 per cent in 2000, reflecting a growing demand for products based on natural ingredients. More and more companies across Europe are trying to find natural solutions, as concerns grow on the possible negative effects on health of artificial ingredients. This is heightened by recent studies like the Southampton study, which linked artificial colourings with hyperactivity in children. Antioxidants Antioxidants neutralise free radicals that can damage the body's cells. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress by building up in the body. Oxidative stress is thought to contribute to the ageing process and several diseases. There has been a rolling movement by the food industry to include such beneficial ingredients in food products. However, while consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits arising from antioxidants, they are still reluctant to sacrifice taste, wanting healthy yet indulgent products. Wild said of its antioxidant blends in ice cream: "While the main focus is still on enjoying this tasty, refreshing treat, consumers continue to demand products that offer credible, functional, added value. "Antioxidant concepts are ideal for supplying this added value, especially as consumers display increased awareness of natural ingredients and how they affect health, and are ultimately demanding products that offer these benefits."